May 15, 2003

French Doors

Our house was originally a four-room house - a living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms (well, 5 if you count the bathroom). The two front rooms had a long wall dividing them to the left when you walk in the front door:This made sense in 1927, but at some point in time the upstairs was expanded to make room for 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. So the downstairs front "bedroom" no longer needed to be such a private space.

When we first saw this house one of the first things we thought of that we would want to do was to put in french doors to open the two front rooms up to each other. When I was expecting our first child and planning to be a stay-at-home mom, we decided that it was absolutely necessary to make the downstairs layout more functional.

We asked a few contractors for quotes. Two of them were outrageously expensive, and the third told us it couldn't be done. Fortunately an engineer friend of ours who has quite a bit of experience in carpentry and home improvement convinced us we could do it ourselves (well, really my husband could do it because I was 8 months pregnant at this point). Our friend drew up detailed plans for us, and we dove in.

This project was a huge mess (all of our walls downstairs are plaster), and because we could only work on weekends, it took almost a month from beginning to end.

It was so exciting when we finally broke through the wall and could see sunlight from the other side!

We ran into one major problem with the heating ducts going through the wall from the basement to the nursery upstairs. Not only did we end up having to tear up the nursery floor (about 3 weeks before my due date!), but finding the right size duct work and connections was also a huge problem. Miraculously, a few employees at Home Depot ended up helping us figure out a configuration that would work so we didn't need to special order anything.

Getting the headers in snugly for support and getting the doors aligned correctly also proved to be a major struggle, but my husband ended up doing the entire project himself with only a few phone calls to our friend.

I was absolutely thrilled with how it turned out! My husband is always noticing the small flaws and telling people this is what it looks like when a banker tries doing home improvement himself, but I love it, and we get lots of compliments on it. It made the layout of our house so much better!

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